The Kerala Kaumudi, a prominent Malayalam daily that has a history of over 100 years, has dismissed journalist M Radhakrishnan, who is also the Secretary of Thiruvananthapuram Press Club, for barging into the house of a woman colleague and harassing her. The complainant, a journalist working with Kaumudi, confirmed that Radhakrishnan had been terminated in an email to members of the Press Club on June 6, Sunday. She and her husband are also members of the Press Club. The email was the first communication from the survivor since she was subjected to the criminal act in November 2019.
Elaborating on the ordeal she and her family had undergone in the last year-and-a-half, the survivor expressed fear over being attacked once again for speaking out. Radhakrishnan and those who endorsed his criminal act at the Press Club had subjected her to severe humiliation and harassment following the incident. "Still in fear, not able to trust anyone," the survivor's email reads.
"In the past one-and-a-half years, the mental tension we have faced is still a haunting experience. My kids, who are ten and nine years old, are still in shock," the email reads.
The survivor and the family were living in the same colony as Radhakrishnan. The family was living in a rented house for nearly ten years there. Radhakrishnan, the survivor, and her family used to maintain a cordial relationship. But according to her, things changed after the elections to the Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ) in 2019 October.
"One of the female employees of Kerala Kaumudi, stood in the elections against the panel supported by Radhakrishnan. Radhakrishnan had called me several times asking to make her step down from contesting the elections which I had declined. Later I had put a comment on a WhatsApp group during the discussions regarding the KUWJ elections. The comment (which was leaked from the group to Radhakrishnan) irked him and he had called me saying if the panel supported by him fails in the elections that would be because of this (her comment in the group). He didn't even listen to what I was saying but was shouting and cut the phone. There started his enmity towards me," the email reads.
Sonichan, who works with Malayala Manorama and is the Press Club President, and some others have taken a stand supporting Radhakrishnanâs harassment. âThe attempts as a group to save the assailant at any cost had put me in a more insecure phase,â said the survivor, âI realise that Radhakrishnan and those who support him are powerful enough to eliminate me and my family at any time. This has evolved through the experiences I had undergone," the email further reads.
Radhakrishnan, along with a group of people barged into the woman journalist's home on the night of November 30, 2019 when she was alone at home with her children. The group abused, harassed and moral policed the journalist and assaulted her male friend and colleague. Radhakrishan and his aides blocked her male friend while he was returning home after visiting her. He was also beaten in front of her and her children. Radhakrishnan was on December 6 arrested by the police based on a complaint from the survivor. Kaumudi had placed him under suspension since December and the final action has been taken following an inquiry into the incident.
The termination letter issued by Kerala Kaumudi in April states, âThe management has received a complaint to the effect that you (Radhakrishnan) have entered into the house of a female employee during off-hours in the night making vulgar allegations to the effect that the employee is maintaining an illicit relationship with another employee of the company.â It goes on to say, âYou have given your explanation, denying the allegations. But in the explanation itself, you have admitted about a criminal case registered against you by the police and the fact that you were arrested by the police in connection with the allegations. The management has conducted an enquiry into the allegations levelled against you and the enquiry officer has submitted the report. It's found from the enquiry report that the allegations in the show cause notice have been proved in the enquiry."
Pointing out that the acts committed by Radhakrishnan are âvery serious and graveâ, Kerala Kaumudiâs letter says the allegations have had an impact on the morale of employees of the company and will tarnish the name of the company. "The disciplinary authority does not find any reasons to take a lenient view in a remote chance that the entire issues happened outside the premises of the company since the issue is having a direct impact on the morale and discipline of the company. Therefore it's not desirable to allow you to continue in the service. Hence considering the gravity of the acts committed by you, it has been decided to dismiss you from the service," it reads.
On December 12, 2019 the Press Club expelled Radhakrishnan from its preliminary membership in a General Body meeting in which 150 members were present. There are nearly 500 members in the Press Club. As per the bye-laws of the Club, the minimum quorum required is 77. However, Radhakrishnan has been back at the helm of the Press Club since April this year, claiming to have a court order in his favor. While many male journalists have chosen silence over the issue, the Network of Women Media In India (NWMI) has been continuing their fight to oust Radhakrishnan from the Press Club. NWMI had staged a protest march in December 2019 that led to his initial suspension of him from the Press Club. Some women journalists had also staged a sit-in protest at the Press Club when Radhakrishnan chose the place as his hideout after the survivor filed the police complaint. He was subsequently arrested that day.